Extensive manuscript on astronomy, in English, c.1800

Extensive manuscript on astronomy, in English, c.1800

Stock Number: 035


Well illustrated student's notebook on astronomy, with sections on cosmography, eclipses, navigation, stereographic projection, English, c.1800





Country of manufacture

UK and Ireland

Categories: Bookshop, Scientific, Scientific Books, Globes & Orreries


An attractive and well illustrated astronomy manuscript, with fully 64 pages of text, calculations and diagrams. The manuscript covers a wide range of topics, beginning with basic definitions and concepts, and moving through sections on the planets, the Moon, the stars, to spherical trigonometry and stereographic projection. Many of the diagrams have been worked on with compasses and a blind stylus. This offers an exceptionally scarce glimpse of astronomical teaching circa 1800.

Provenance and other contextual details are hard to glean: the manuscript is in its original amateur binding, made from an old and very strong goods wrapper (possibly tobacco); the paper bears an obscure watermark (fleur-de-lis over the letters ‘I G S H’), and the name ‘Peter Cook(e)’ is written on the covers. Some other names have been partially obliterated, and it is possible these could be read, given care and time (one, possibly, is ‘Thomas Dunsford’).

The text refers to the ‘Georgian Planet’, so the manuscript is evidently post-1781, and is likely to be earlier rather than later as this usage was outmoded by the middle of the 19th-century. 1846 would be an outside terminus ad quem as that was the year Neptune was discovered. But by the eye-test, and judging the rather heavy laid paper, the manuscript appears to date from around 1800, perhaps as early as 1790.

Condition is good to very good: the covers are age-worn but are very sturdy; the saddle-stitched binding is holding very well, and the paper stock is clean throughout, except for Peter Cook’s own corrections and doodles.

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GB Octavo Books

Small online bookstore specializing in the history of science, trading on ABEbooks since 2006: http://www.abebooks.co.uk/octavo-books-cambridge/50628664/sf

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